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All About the Migrating Motor Complex & How to Optimize Yours

We all know what it’s like to have clutter—clutter on our desks, clutter in our closets, clutter on our computers, clutter in our minds. Clutter gets in the way of us effectively and smoothly going about our day. In a way, it makes us work harder to accomplish a task because of the obstacles it creates. Well, this same concept of clutter applies to our gut, too. If only we had a way to declutter our digestive tract. Surprise—we do!

Enter the migrating motor complex, or MMC for short. We don’t hear about it too often, but it’s actually an integral component of a healthy digestive system, which makes for a healthier life overall. The MMC occurs in all our bodies, but our lifestyle habits—especially our eating patterns—determine how well it can do its job. If you want to learn more about this mysterious MMC and want to know my newest solution to helping it run optimally, keep reading.

What is the MMC?

Think of the MMC as your gut’s housekeeper. It’s a cycle of gastrointestinal contractions that sweep the gut of leftover food, bacteria, and toxins. The MMC pushes the debris through the digestive tract and eventually out of the body, prepping and priming you for your next meal.

How does the MMC work?

Simply put, the MMC works effectively when you fast and is interrupted when you eat. However, it’s a little more complex than that, subdivided into four phases. Bear with me as I break down the nitty-gritty of the mechanisms.

The MMC’s activity takes place over 90-120 minutes. The process begins in the stomach after you’ve eaten anything from a midday snack to a hefty holiday meal. In this fasted state, Phases I through IV occur.

  • Phase I makes up approximately 40-60% of the MMC. In phase I, the gut is mostly still.
  • Phase II occupies 20-30% of the MMC and is marked by irregular gastrointestinal contractions.
  • Phase III lasts 5-10 minutes and is characterized by strong, rhythmic contractions that coordinate to push food residues to the colon.
  • Phase IV is a transitional period of irregular contractions, signifying the end of phase III and preparing the GI tract for phase I. 

Let me reiterate that this four-phase process only occurs when your stomach is empty. So, here’s the thing—if you eat heavy meals and snacks throughout the day every day, it will never work properly, which can lead to some undesirable risks. It’s not just about when you eat but also what you eat. If you consume a significant amount of chicken, beef, nuts, and eggs, your body will take longer to digest them, which presents further complications. 

Why is the MMC important?

We need the MMC to maintain a healthy gut. The gut microbiome is key in preventing the development of chronic diseases ranging from metabolic disease to colorectal cancer. An optimized gut aids in digestive functioning and nutrient absorption to promote overall health. So, when the MMC consistently cannot run through all four phases, we increase the risk of certain negative outcomes.

Food is actively swept throughout the digestive system during phases II and III. However, if we interrupt this cycle by consuming another meal before the MMC is complete, food from the previous meal will remain wherever it landed in the intestinal tract until it can start over. When too many MMC interruptions occur too often, we put ourselves at risk of developing small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO. 

SIBO is very common among my clients these days. Excess colonic bacteria in the small intestine may cause abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and nutrient malabsorption. Further, SIBO can lead to more severe health issues, like leaky gut and chronic fatigue. Optimizing your MMC to complete its cycle is crucial in preventing these complications.

How can I optimize my MMC?

We need to allow the MMC to run through each of its phases. So, I suggest eating healthy, plant-powered, balanced meals 2 to 4 hours apart as the MMC clears out the GI tract. I also recommend staying away from excessive snacking, as this contributes to MMC interruptions, which can cause SIBO and other GI disorders. However, life can get busy, and we sometimes forget to prioritize healthy eating patterns. Well, I’ve got a solution.

I’ve created a new EG Kitchen Digestion Reset Cleanse! It’s a delivered program consisting primarily of liquids while still nutrient-dense enough to give your body what it needs daily. For three days, you’ll give your digestive tract a break and allow your MMC to go to work for more time each day. The results are powerful, and I can’t recommend trying it enough.

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We all want a clutter-free GI tract for a more clutter-free life. Thankfully, we have the MMC. However, the MMC only works to declutter our GI tract when we create the environment that allows it to. This is why when and what we eat matters. But I know what it’s like not to have the time to prepare the most nutrient-rich meals or to be so overwhelmed with life that you stress snack throughout the day. Sometimes, our bodies (and brains, for that matter) just need a break. The EG Kitchen Digestion Reset Cleanse can help give you just that. This cleanse is designed to give your digestive system the rest it deserves without restriction, helping optimize your MMC to reset your digestive tract. From mineral-rich soups to a detox smoothie and more, this cleanse will surely rejuvenate your GI function for a healthier you. If you live in the LA area, check out the EG Kitchen Digestion Reset Cleanse here.

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